Technology Overview

This technology relates to an apparatus and method for determining the porosity, pore size, pore-size distribution (PSD), and internal pore fouling of all membrane types, namely flat-sheet, hollow fibre or tubular (including lumen side or outer wall). Evapoporometry (EP) is based on the evaporative mass loss from membranes that have been pre-saturated with a wetting volatile liquid, whose vapour pressure is reduced due to surface curvature at the air-liquid interface within the pores.

Potential Applications

The evapoporometer instrument is applicable to membrane manufacturers and users in the desalination, water treatment, and liquid separations sectors as well as in the pharmaceutical, chemical, biochemical, and food and beverage industries. The technology may be used for the following applications: Determining the PSD of membranes used for desalination and water treatment. Assessing the impact of membrane surface and internal pore fouling on the PSD. Assessing the effects of fouling-mitigation methods on the membrane morphology. Determining the PSD of other porous media such as catalysts, adsorbents, and electrodes.

Market Trends and Opportunities

A conservative estimate of the number of Liquid Displacement Porometers (LDP; the market-dominant instrument for measuring membrane PSD) in the world currently in use is around 10,000 units. A Liquid Displacement Porometer typically costs around $100,000. Hence, the market potential for a high-resolution EP instrument is in the neighbourhood of S$1 billion. Even a 10% share of this market would be worth a very significant $100 million.

Customer Benefits

Less expensive, more accurate and smaller footprint than currently available instruments. Straightforward PSD determination without the need to assume pore geometry. Operation at ambient pressure and temperature that does not alter PSD. PSD determination using water that is of importance in many commercial applications. Characterizes pores in high-end microfiltration and entire range of ultrafiltration membranes. Gives PSD of both dead-end and continuous pores independently. Applicable to determining PSD of fouled membranes.